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Posted at 05:12 PM ET, 08/27/2012

PostScript: Achenbach and those Neil Armstrong e-mails

Well, it’s day one of the Republican National Convention, the day nobody was going to broadcast, but there is actual news being created: that today was in fact all but canceled. It is therefore PostScript’s great pleasure today to provide a day’s respite from partisan sniping.

We make a giant leap over to PostOpinions’ glamorous exchange student from Florida, the Achenblog. Achenblog is the final resting place of civility and community in Internet commentary. It’s got a Boodle, which is like the PostScript bunker but bigger, wilder and more aesthetically pleasing. It’s also got super-smart, nice people who make sophisticated chemistry jokes and punctuate. And it’s got Joel Achenbach. The only thing that can ever ruin the perepetual Elysian fields of blog commentary is when a more mainstream/less polite and clever blog invades their territory and starts a fight.

So PostScript would be remiss if she let this opportunity go by. Today the nice neighbors are reacting to Achenbach’s story of his e-mail exchanges with Neil Armstrong. Though Achenbach doesn’t reveal the specifics of these exchanges — adhering adorably to off-the-record promises made to a now-dead man — it seems to confirm that Armstrong was a good, avuncular egg who sought no particular fame but was a total badass hero for science. And the Boodlers have their own crazy space age memories.

TalGreywolf totally wins the space anecdote contest:

Christmas Day, 1968, I’m all of 9 years old watching the Apollo 8 broadcasts from the moon, and I get the wild idea of trying to call Mission Control. So I call the local operator (in New Orleans), who connects me to Houston, who then connects me to the Johnson Space Center operator... and next thing I know, I’m talking to someone in Mission Control (and yes, I could hear the sounds of activity in the background.) Three minutes of me babbling like the kid I was, he takes my name and address and says he’ll get some things sent to me. About a week later, I get an after-Christmas gift from NASA, filled with pictures, posters and booklets on all the various missions.

And two weeks later, the parents get the phone bill.
(Note to millennials and youngers: “Long distance” used to mean something financially bad.)

ScienceTim has had a few regrets, but then again, too few to mention:

I keep thinking that I should have taken advantage of the opportunity to violate propriety and protocol and go shake the hands of the Apollo 11 astronauts when they were at the Air and Space Museum and I had wangled a seat in the IMAX projection booth. It would have been really rude and I was an idiot not to do it.

Flyover22 had a closer encounter:

I was lucky to meet Neil Armstrong. Your article captured the quiet greatest of the man. He was a man from a time when the measure of a man was from within and not based on external fame and recognition.
He would talk about engineering and his farm, but would move on if the conversation turned to the moon flight. He knew, as the engineer, that he was just a name tied with a great achievement of generations and tens of thousands of scientists, engineers, and other technical disciplines, which made it possible. And as an engineer he knew the statistical uncertainty of leaps in technology and scientific achievement.

Smifffy, too, personally connected to Armstrong:

Through a personal connection, Neil Armstrong wrote an email to my daughter’s Grade 5 class this year. It was special; now it is very special. He answered questions that the kids had sent. He gave a description of a lunar crater that you could only give if you’d been there. Left us feeling very humble.

Jim19 just saw Armstrong on TV, but the memory’s still with him:

We didn’t have a TV, so we took our laundry to the laundromat across from the bus terminus at Coogee Beach in Sydney NSW and spent a couple of hours watching the moon landing in the grainy B&W picture high on the wall. I’m forgetting more and more these days, but not that.

And MMDavis1 has a very recent anecdote about our culture’s tragic failure to fully appreciate Neil:

MSNBC didn’t even get Armstrong’s name right in the headline – reported that Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon, had died.

It’s true! Oh, no. You bad media.

NatsForever, though, knows exactly the way to warm the hearts of PostScripters everywhere on this sad day.

Achenbach: Publish the stuff from Armstrong! There is no more agreement not to publish once your source is deceased. You got it from him certainly because you are undoubtedly a swell guy. But mayyyybe it was because you are a journalist. Do your job! The world wants to read that stuff. Did Armstrong talk about your guy Obama, just a little too much, maybe?

Being trained journalists, we contacted Achenbach, who is in Tampa for The Post. He refused to deny directly that Armstrong’s e-mails were a declaration of disgust with the failed policies of Barack Obama.

By Rachel Manteuffel  |  05:12 PM ET, 08/27/2012

 
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